D-Day for Phoenix

The biggest game in the Wellington Phoenix's two-season history looms in Melbourne on Friday night and the players are positively 'buzzing' at the prospect of a top-four spot.

The biggest game in the Wellington Phoenix's two-season history looms in Melbourne on Friday night and the players are positively 'buzzing' at the prospect of a top-four spot.

The Phoenix, sitting in fifth on the Hyundai A-League table, have a simple equation awaiting: They must beat the table-topping Victory at the Telstra Dome then hope Central Coast is beaten by Adelaide United on Sunday.

Making the task even tougher in Melbourne is the fact that the Victory are jostling for the Premiers' Plate with Adelaide, along with a coveted Asian Champions League spot.

Wooden-spooners in their inaugural Hyundai A-League season, the Phoenix are banishing the demons of the failed Knightz and Kingz franchises while going a long way to restoring the credibility of the New Zealand game.

The threat of another bottom-placed finish has long since dissipated but all eyes are on qualification to the club's first play-off appearance.

"We've come back really well and the team has bonded fantastically," Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund said.

"It's great that it's now come down to 90 minutes, especially in Melbourne, where there'll be a big crowd at the Telstra Dome. The boys are buzzing for it."

The lacklustre start to the competition, Sigmund believes, was a result of 'peaking too early' after the Phoenix lost in the final of the Pre-Season Cup to the Victory.

"It took a while to juggle things and get the right side out," he said. "There were a lot of new players we had coming in but once we got that sorted out things started to come right and all the guys started performing to the levels they knew they were capable of."

"It's been really enjoyable to be amongst and I think the enjoyable atmosphere and environment (coach) Ricki Herbert, the coaching staff and the players have created is why we find ourselves here with a shot at the playoffs with one game to go."

The fine form of Sigmund along with fellow defender Karl Dodd has created a welcome headache for Herbert as captain Andrew Durante is fully fit again after missing last week's 1-1 home draw with Adelaide.

While uncertain whether he will start on Friday night, Durante, who won last season's Hyundai A-League title with the Newcastle Jets, is chomping at the bit to get on the field.

While both sides will be on edge as they have plenty to play for, Durante said the Phoenix would take an attacking mentality into the game.

"I think it'll be fairly cagey at the start. Both teams will probably try to sit back and soak up the pressure; I don't think either team will over-commit and the start and push too many players forward," he said.

"But as the game goes on things will open up and there'll be a lot of scoring chances."

"It'll be crucial for us to take our chances."

"They've got top spot to play for and we want to make the four, so it's going to be a cracker of a game. The club's only two years old, we're very new to this competition, and it'd be incredible for us to make the top four."